Occasionally we meet someone with whom we immediately connect, as if they have always been a part of our lives. Although most of the people I have befriended since moving to my house now seem to have been in my life for more than the year I have known them, one woman in particular was in my heart from the first day we met.

We have a bit of a language problem since English is not her first language, but if we miss a word or two here and there, or even a whole sentence, it doesn’t matter. Only the connection matters. And if words fail, there is the universal language of smiles and hugs.

I hadn’t seen her for a while, so when she and her husband stopped by yesterday to see me, I was delighted.

Until I found out what prompted the visit — they wanted to let me know she’s starting chemo.

This woman, so lovely, lively, charming, always smiling, always kind and caring, has been battling cancer for the past couple of years, and was about to begin a more aggressive treatment. My heart broke at the thought of the pain coming into her life — and her husband’s.

I wanted to scream, “No, no, no.” Bad things are not supposed to happen in this shining new life of mine. But this is not my struggle; it is theirs. All I could do was offer a couple of feeble words.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“It’s life,” he responded. Then he added, as if trying to convince both of us, “This is a good thing. It means she can now get better.”

Even with the news shadowing the visit, it was great seeing them. She loved my house and said if she needed to be with someone when her husband was at work, she’d come stay with me. I hope she does. This feels like a healing place. It’s helped me heal. Maybe it will help her heal, too.

There’s no real ending to this blog. No moral, no hook, no lesson to be learned, nothing to turn it into more than it is — a glimpse at a bittersweet moment of life.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator